Is Mesothelioma Treatment Possible in a COVID-19 World?
Recent news on potential vaccines for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has given everyone hope for a future in which our lives might return to their pre-COVID “normal.” But we’re not there yet. As case numbers surge across the United States (and the world), hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise. As a result, Oregonians and people all across America continue to take steps to protect themselves, including the wearing of masks, social distancing, and isolation when possible.
But while quarantining is beneficial as far as the spread of COVID-19 is concerned, it can be harmful when it results in people’s failure to obtain needed medical treatment. One group of people faced with tough decisions is the community of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. In this article, we will discuss what some of the experts are saying about mesothelioma treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Challenging Conditions for Mesothelioma Patients and Others
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) caution that some people have an increased risk to suffer serious illness from COVID-19. “Serious illness” means hospitalization, intensive care, or the use of a ventilator. These patients are also at greater risk of death. The CDC identifies two primary risk factors: age and certain underlying medical conditions.
Age and COVID-19
With regard to age, the CDC notes that the risk of serious illness increases with age. People 85 years of age and above have the greatest risk. However, a 50-year-old person is at greater risk than a 40-year-old person, just as the 40-year-old is at greater risk than a 30-year-old. Eighty percent (80%) of deaths in the United States have been people 65 years of age and older.
Mesothelioma often takes decades to develop. Thus, it is common for mesothelioma patients to fall into this older age group, thereby putting them at additional risk of serious illness.
Underlying Medical Conditions and COVID-19
The CDC has determined that people with a variety of underlying medical conditions have an increased risk of serious illness. The CDC also lists factors that may increase the risk of serious illness. We’ll provide both lists below.
As an important disclaimer, the CDC notes that this is a new disease, and that medical information is changing daily. Thus, the lists are not exhaustive and could change at any time. If you have a question about whether a certain condition places you at greater risk, it’s important to seek medical advice.
The CDC lists the following conditions as those that do cause increased risk of serious illness:
- Heart conditions
- Chronic kidney disease
- Weakened immune system from organ transplants
- Severe obesity
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus
Suffering from a form of cancer, mesothelioma patients thus have an increased risk of serious illness. Of course, this risk can be exacerbated if the patient suffers from other conditions in the list.
The following conditions might cause increased risk of serious illness:
- Moderate to severe asthma
- Cerebrovascular disease
- Weakened immune system
- Liver disease
- Neurologic conditions
- Type 1 diabetes
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Being overweight
- Cystic fibrosis
Should Mesothelioma Patients Seek Treatment?
Many mesothelioma patients find themselves not only at increased risk of serious illness due to the fact they have mesothelioma, but additionally because they are in an advanced age group. Some patients even have additional underlying medical conditions, such as COPD or obesity, that place them at increased risk. Thus, some patients who quarantine themselves for protection wonder if they should continue to seek treatment.
According to the Baylor College of Medicine, some doctors fear that inadequate screening, diagnosis, and treatment resulting from quarantining will cause some cancers to be missed at an early stage and that there will be an excess of cancer deaths in upcoming years. The College notes that some established patients can receive some care by telemedicine. However, they also point out that it is important not to ignore symptoms and avoid screenings. According to the College, clinics have improved their safety protocols and patients can still protect themselves with masks and social distancing.
The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation provides a helpful list of recommendations for mesothelioma patients. First and foremost, you should consult with your medical team to help you make decisions. This can often be done remotely. The Foundation recommends proceeding with routine scans and visits if your local area is not experiencing a surge. If it is experiencing a surge, it might be better to delay routine visits, especially for those who are stable. Those with new symptoms should contact a physician immediately. We have provided a link so that you can review the other recommendations provided by the Foundation.
The Bottom Line
Your best course of action depends on your particular medical condition and symptoms, the conditions in your community, and the advice of treating physicians.
Due to the timing of the publication of the articles, it’s not clear if these experts would be more likely to favor some amount of delay in light of recent vaccine news. Therefore, the best course is to consult with your doctor or treatment team. You can initially turn to telemedicine and then follow your doctor’s advice from there.
Call with Questions
If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos or diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases, you likely have questions. The experienced Oregon mesothelioma lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield will be happy to answer any of your questions with a free consultation. We can help you make sure that your legal rights are protected and that wrongdoers are held accountable for their actions.